Speaking on behalf of the Government, Assistant Minister of Health and Aged Care, The Hon Ken Wyatt AM announced the changes at an industry conference in Sydney this week.
Addressing delegates at the COTA (Council on the Ageing) Conference on Preparing for Choice and Control in Residential Aged Care, Minister Wyatt explained the revised package balances funding of Australia’s growing aged care but also takes into account the feedback it received from providers about how to fund residents with high care needs.
“The Government has listened to concerns of providers and adjusted or removed some of the previously proposed changes relating to the delivery of complex pain management,” Minister Wyatt said.
Instead of significant adjustments to the pain management and physiotherapy components of the Complex Health Care (CHC) domain of the ACFI there will be a one year freeze on indexation of ACFI and in the second year a 50 percent freeze on indexation of the CHC domain.
The Minister also announced a further increase in the viability supplement directed to rural and remote providers, in addition to what was already announced in the Budget earlier this year.
“The revised package provides more certainty for the sector and will deliver sustainable expenditure growth over the short term while paving the way for longer-term reforms,” according to Minister Wyatt, adding that he would like to see the debate between Government and the sector moved to the development of a better, longer term aged care funding model.
“Both the Government and the sector want a more stable and sustainable funding system and we will be consulting closely with the sector on longer-term reform options.”
“Consultation with the sector has been a feature of aged care reform. The sector will continue to play a key role in co-designing reform initiatives aimed at ensuring a sustainable aged care system,” Minister Wyatt said.
Peak body for not-for-profit providers Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) appreciates that members’ concerns have been heard with amendments to the changes.
“ACSA has consistently said it does not support any changes to outlays on aged care because of the impact on quality of care for those with complex care needs,” according to ACSA President Paul Sadler.
The organisation also supports the Government’s decision to increase the rural and remote viability supplement but calls for close monitoring and review of all the changes, to “allow for any adjustments to ensure a high quality of care continues to be provided”, Mr Sadler said.
According to COTA Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates AM Minister Wyatt announcement showed the Turnbull Government is willing to listen to consumer advocates and sector experts.
“It takes courage and leadership to admit you didn’t get it right the first time. Today’s announcement shows the Turnbull Government has kept an open mind to the concerns of consumer representatives and the welfare of aged care residents,” Mr Yates said.
“This is good news for the increasing number of older Australians who need the support of aged care services, and their families."